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Knights looks toward another great tennis season

Mar. 8—ROYAL CITY — You wouldn't necessarily expect Royal High School, in a town of fewer than 2,000 people, to be a tennis powerhouse. And if you didn't, you'd be wrong.

"Last year, our girls team were league champions," said Head Coach Rodrigo Fajardo. "We had a girls doubles make it to state. And we have everyone returning; we lost one senior last year. (We're) feeling pretty confident with our girls team moving forward; they put in a lot of work."

"We haven't been playing very long compared to the kids that you see at state, because they're mostly from private schools or big cities," said junior Campbelle Anderson.

Altogether, Fajardo estimated he had about 40 players. The boys are a little rawer and newer to the game, Fajardo said, but they're getting a little extra help from the experts.

"We have a boys and girls team and we practice together every day," he said. "It's kind of nice having both because sometimes we have a stronger hitter that's a lady and she'll go to one of the boys and just kind of help (him) out and get a little better."

Anderson is one of the players Fajardo sees making a name for herself this year, along with her partner Madi Christensen, also a junior. The two have been friends their whole lives and playing as a doubles team since they started as freshmen, so playing in tandem comes naturally to them, they said.

Christensen and Anderson both said they plan to focus on consistency this year.

"I need a lot of help in being consistent because we'll have good shots every now and then," Anderson said.

"There's always room for improvement on everything," agreed Christensen. "So just being more consistent on our shots and serves would be really consistent."

Fajardo also said consistency is a focus, and also picking their shots.

"We're just trying to do simple," he said. "We don't need to do a haymaker swing; we just need to have control, good body movement, and take the ball down."

Seniors Maria Zapata and Naomi Abundiz have also been playing together for a long time. They went out for tennis initially because Fajardo had been their middle school gym teacher and he invited them to give it a shot. They were a little careful about predicting another blowout year.

"I hope we do as good as we did last year," Abundiz said. "But I think it all just depends on like, the competition and our condition, how much we push ourselves."

Abundiz and Zapata must have pushed themselves pretty well last year, because they took fifth and sixth in districts, Fajardo said.

"They're wanting to punch their ticket to state as well," he said. "And our number two girls doubles took, I believe it was fifth place last year in districts. So we'll see what they can do ... My hat (is off) to them. They just work hard, and I don't need to encourage it. They just do it on their own. It's fantastic."

Joel Martin may be reached via email at jmartin@columbiabasinherald.com.

Royal Tennis Schedule

March 14 — vs Zillah — 3 p.m.

March 16 — vs Cascade (Leavenworth) — 3 p.m.

March 18 — at Othello — 3 p.m.

March 19 — at Kiona-Benton — 3 p.m.

March 26 — vs Wahluke — 3 p.m.

March 28 — at Granger — 3:30 p.m.

April 9 — vs College Place — 3 p.m.

April 11 — at Connell — 4 p.m.

April 13 — vs White Swan — 3 p.m.

April 16 — at Zillah — 4 p.m.

April 18 — vs Kiona-Benton — 3 p.m.

April 25 — at Wahluke — 3 p.m.

April 26/27 — at Inland Empire Tournament — 9 a.m.

April 30 — vs Granger — 3 p.m.

May 2 — at College Place — 3:30 p.m.

May 7 — vs Connell — 3 p.m.